David Knifton secures £1.4m settlement in complex claim

January 31, 2018

David Knifton from Exchange Chambers has secured damages of £1.4m for a HGV driver who was injured when the step of his cab collapsed in May 2013.

Whilst it was initially thought that the Claimant had suffered an incomplete spinal cord injury, extensive investigations eventually suggested that his physical injuries were minor, but that he had developed a major psychiatric response, namely a Functional Neurological Disorder or conversion disorder.

The accident had left him profoundly disabled, with chronic back pain and unexplained motor and sensory neurological symptoms, as a result of which he could only walk around 20m using a stick or crutches, was largely confined to his home, and was leading a negative existence.

Although contributory negligence and causation were initially in issue, David secured an interim payment to fund rehabilitation at a contested High Court hearing in November 2016, and subsequently persuaded the Defendants to provide substantial funds to enable a bungalow to be purchased.

Despite numerous studies suggesting that the prognosis for functional neurological disorders was poor, there was recent evidence that intensive psychiatric treatment as an in-patient at a specialist unit resulted in around 2/3rds of such patients achieving a substantial improvement. Recognising the uncertain prognosis, David negotiated an award of £1.4m at a joint settlement meeting on 25.1.18, on the basis that a return to any form of employment was highly unlikely, that the Claimant would need an adapted bungalow, support with childcare and household activities, and a range of therapies and equipment to meet his needs.

Commenting on the award, David Knifton said: “This was an unusual and complex case, involving numerous experts, with conflicting views as to the nature and cause of the Claimant’s symptoms. Nevertheless, by identifying his needs and involving the Defendants in the rehabilitation process, they were persuaded that his condition was genuine. As a result, we were able to secure a life-changing settlement which gives the Claimant a good chance of making a substantial recovery. I wish him and his family the very best for the future.”

David was instructed by Dan Thompson and Yvonne Hall of Forster Dean Solicitors.

He is a member of the personal injury department at Exchange Chambers.